Angela Hewitt and Roger Allam: Music and the poetry of T.S. Eliot

To mark the centenary of the publication of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, Roger Allam and pianist Angela Hewitt present a reading of the work, interspersed with music by Ravel, Debussy, Dukas, Messiaen, and William Bolcom. The performance will also include Eliot’s poems Marina and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The evening, followed by a three-course dinner, takes place at Fidelio Cafe in London on March 12, 2022. Places are limited, so book now! Edit: SOLD OUT

A second evening of music and poetry is organised by All Saints Concert Series on April 30th, 2022. You can book your ticket here!

T. S. Eliot’s landmark modernist poem The Waste Land was published in 1922. Divided into five sections, the poem explores life in London in the aftermath of the First World War, although its various landscapes include the desert and the ocean as well as the bustling metropolis. The poem is notable for its unusual style, which fuses different poetic forms and traditions. Eliot also alludes to numerous works of literature including the Bible, Shakespeare, St Augustine, Hindu and Buddhist sacred texts, as well as French poetry, Wagnerian opera, and Arthurian legend surrounding the Holy Grail. But the poem is also strikingly modern in its references to jazz music, gramophones, motorcars, typists and tinned food.

Not long after its publication, The Waste Land became a talking-point among readers, with some critics hailing it as a masterpiece that spoke for a generation of lost souls, and others denouncing it for its allusiveness or for its unusual modernist style. It continues to divide readers, but its reputation as one of the most influential poems of the twentieth century is secure. Visit the Loughborough University’s website for further summary and analysis of the poem.

Angela Hewitt and Roger Allam have worked together on several occasions, starting 8 years ago at the annual Trasimeno Music Festival. A series of summer concerts in the Umbrian town Magione and on the shores of Lake Trasimeno, it has been rated by the national and foreign press as “one of the most prestigious festivals in Europe” and as “one of the best music festivals in Italy”. It was founded in 2005 by the world-renowned Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt, who is widely considered to be one of the greatest living interpreters of the music of Bach. Though they did not perform together in 2014, Allam recited together with soprano Dame Felicity Lott at the festival during an evening devoted to William Walton’s Façade.

Angela Hewitt and Roger Allam © Angela Hewitt (@HewittJSB on Twitter)
During T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets © Angela Hewitt @HewittJSB, 2015

The following year, Allam gave an intimate reading of Eliot’s Four Quartets at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London as part of their Concerts by Candlelight series. The reading was highlighted by the music of Bach and Messiaen, performed by Hewitt. A magical evening, a repeat performance was held in 2016 at the Riverhouse Barn in Surrey. During the Second World War, Eliot divided his time between London and Shamley Green in Surrey, where he wrote the third and fourth quartets.
Read our in-depth review here.

When invited to talk on BBC Radio 3’s  Private Passions in 2016, Allam talked about his collaboration with Hewitt, and why they chose Bach’s Goldberg Variations: Variation no.14 for Eliot’s Four Quartets. “Angela always makes Bach feel really close to dance, which I really love.”

In 2018, Allam returned to the Trasimeno Music Festival as a participant at An Evening of Poetry and Music. As an encore, he recited Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare, which can be watched on YouTube.

Wish you had been there? Book your ticket now for an intimate evening of music and poetry, followed by a gourmet dinner on the website of Fidelio Cafe. Edit: SOLD OUT

Missed out? A second evening is organised by All Saints Concert Series. You can book your ticket here.

2 thoughts on “Angela Hewitt and Roger Allam: Music and the poetry of T.S. Eliot


    A new beginning
    Nancy Carroll at your side
    Transported to Provence –
    Outwitting criminals – and more beside.
    Imposing justice
    Not by force, but by deduction
    Erudition. less aggression.
    Vintage wines instead of beer
    Exquisite food to savour.
    Respected judge and magistrate
    Life saver, investigator.
    Aix provides a stunning scene
    Quintessential Provencal
    Under the southern sun with Marine
    Excitement, murder, mystery –

  2. Roger Allam is my favorite” copper” of all time. Keep us informed when he comes to the Colonies!! Roger you are the best. Watching Endeavour “Confection” right now. I’m not a particularly emotional guy but Roger’s performance here really gets to me personally….true gravitas. God bless DCI Thursday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.